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A transcendent introvert

Drawn inwards by both his insular upbringing and his genius, Glenn Gould's life was almost devoid of incident. This is what makes it fascinating

By Erik Tarloff   July 2004

Wondrous Strange by Kevin Bazzana (OUP, $35)

He occupies a unique niche. Other great pianists, even giants like Sviatoslav Richter, Artur Rubinstein, and Rudolf Serkin, exist on a continuum with their lesser colleagues, but Glenn Gould, whether good, bad, or indifferent (and he could be all three) stands in splendid isolation. A Gould performance is immediately recognisable, impossible to mistake for any other pianist’s; touch, phrasing, tempo, voicing, rhythm are all distinctive and incomparable. His reputation is similarly unique. The impeccable technical apparatus, the vehement musical enthusiasms and anti-pathies, the well documented eccentricities contribute to a sort of cult. There…

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